By KENDRA BURDICK
Paranoia, a term used to describe irrational or unfounded fears and beliefs, affects millions of individuals worldwide. It is a mental health condition that can cause significant distress and impairment in one’s daily life. While paranoia can be a symptom of other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, it can also be a standalone disorder such as bipolar disorder.
According to Mental Health America, a government site, paranoia can manifest in different ways, such as fear of being watched, harm or danger, conspiracy, or persecution. These fears can cause an individual to become withdrawn, suspicious, and have difficulty trusting others.
In extreme cases, paranoia can lead to delusions, which are false beliefs that persist despite evidence to the contrary. For instance, a person may believe that they are being poisoned or that someone is controlling their mind. Delusions can be particularly challenging to manage, and professional intervention is usually necessary. Typically the therapy used for paranoia is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Causes of Paranoia
According to Dr. Karin Gepp, a clinical psychologist, the causes of paranoia are not fully understood. However, many factors may contribute to the development of this condition. Some of the known risk factors include genetics, brain chemistry, traumatic experiences, drug abuse, and stressful life events.
Studies have shown that certain areas of the brain, particularly those involved in processing emotions and interpreting sensory information, may contribute to the development of paranoia. People with a family history of psychiatric disorders may also be more susceptible to developing paranoia.
“I’ve had paranoia since I was at least four years old. I think that my paranoia steemed from my siblings and the fearful stuff in social media,” explains Josh Andreews, a freshman at Redlands East Valley High School, on his thoughts on the matter.
Everyone experiences paranoia at some point in their lives, especially at young ages since creativity is at its highest according to Paul Sloane, a writer for the BBN Times. “Children are much more creative than adults because of their active imagination. Young kids are less constrained by their prior patterns of thought,” stated Sloane. (ETHIC PHOTO/KENDRA BURDICK)
“Paranoia is difficult to come to terms with but in the end,” David Jamin, a sophomore attending Citrus Valley High School, continues about his experience, “you need to realize that you are in the here and now, and you are the one who can protect yourself from your mind.”
Paranoia can be treated using various methods, including medication and psychotherapy. Antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to treat severe cases of paranoia. These medications work by blocking the action of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that plays a role in the development of delusions.
Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also be useful in helping individuals with paranoia. This type of therapy aims to help patients identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with paranoia.
If someone is struggling with paranoia, the following resources can provide useful information and support:
1. National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI is a national organization that provides education, support, and advocacy for people with mental health conditions. Their website offers resources for individuals with paranoia and their loved ones.
2. American Psychological Association – The APA is a professional organization for psychologists in the United States. Their website provides practical information on different mental health conditions, including paranoia.
3. Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America – SARDA is a non-profit organization that provides information and support to individuals with schizophrenia and related disorders. Their website offers valuable resources on the symptoms and treatment options for paranoia.
4. Mind – Mind is a UK-based charity that provides support and advice for people with mental health issues. Their website features helpful articles on paranoia and other mental health conditions.
5. PsychCentral – PsychCentral is an online mental health resource that offers articles, news, and community support for individuals with mental health conditions. Their website features helpful resources on paranoia, including self-help tips and coping strategies.
Paranoia can be a debilitating condition that impacts many aspects of an individual’s life. However, with proper treatment and support from these good resources, individuals with paranoia can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.